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2017-18 MLB Free Agency Preview: Outfielders

There are plenty of recognizable names available in the section of the market.

Arizona Diamondbacks Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

MLB Free Agency has officially begun, and the Milwaukee Brewers figure to be active players on this year’s market. The Brewers have a talented core of controllable ballplayers in place thanks to the deft dealings of Doug Melvin and David Stearns over the past few years, and the franchise will enter 2018 with increased expectations after narrowly missing out on the postseason this past year. With just over $61 mil in commitments projected for next year, the Brewers will be able to make a splash or two this winter if they so choose.

So far we have taken a look at the former Brewers that are available this winter, as well as previewed the markets for starters, relievers, and infielders. Today we will conclude this series by discussing the free agent outfielders.

The most in-demand outfielder this winter figures to be JD Martinez, who is coming off of a monster year split between the Tigers and Diamondbacks. He only managed to appear in 119 games and take 489 trips to the plate, but that didn’t stop the 30 year old from launching 45 home runs while batting .303/.376/.690. Martinez has graded out generally terribly in the outfield corners during his career, but he’s the most potent bat available on the market this winter and doesn’t have a Qualifying Offer to contend with. As such, agent Scott Boras is aiming high and reportedly searching for a $200 mil deal for his client. Martinez probably won’t end up signing for that much, but it’ll still be a nice payday for a guy who was released by the Astros four years ago before catching on with Detroit on a minor league deal.

After Martinez comes old friend Lorenzo Cain, who hits the market after a lengthy and successful run with the Royals that included a World Series ring in 2015. Cain battled health issues in 2016 but bounced back to play 155 games in 2017, batting a nifty .300/.363/.440 with 15 home runs and 26 steals. He’s hit over .300 and provided above-average offense in three of the last four seasons (with a 99 wRC+ in 2016) and even at age 31 (32 in April), he still boasts the type of speed that is a weapon both on the basepaths and in center field, where he routinely grades out as an excellent defender. Cain does come with a QO attached, but he should still score a deal not dissimilar from what Dexter Fowler got from St. Louis.

Beyond the two star level players there are several outfielders who have the ability to be solid contributors to their next team. After a couple of down seasons with the Reds, Jay Bruce has bounced back by slugging 69 homers and providing above-average offense over the last two years while spending time in Cincinnati, New York, and Cleveland. After struggling with the Astros, Carlos Gomez bounced back with a nice 2017 that saw him hit .255/.340/.462 with 17 home runs and 13 steals in just 105 games. Jon Jay offers about as little power as anyone in the league, but is still a useful bat who has posted consecutive years of above-average offense and can handle all three outfield spots. Like Jay, Jarrod Dyson offers zero power, and his bat is generally below-average. But his prowess both on the bases and across the outfield have made him one of the most valuable fourth-outfield types in the game over the last six seasons. Each of those players figure to command multiyear deals.

Other outfielders on the market include notable veterans Carlos Gonzalez, Cameron Maybin, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Melky Cabrera, Nori Aoki, Andre Ethier, Austin Jackson, Michael Saunders, Jayson Werth, Seth Smith, and Ichiro. Each of these players will probably be looking at one year pacts or in some cases even minor league deals if they hope to play somewhere in 2018.

The Brewers don’t figure to be heavily involved in the outfield market given their relative depth on the grass throughout their organization. As things stand right now, it appears as though Brett Phillips, Keon Broxton, and Lewis Brinson will be competing for most of the playing time in center field during spring training, with Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana entrenched in the corners. If the Brewers do add an outfielder, it could be with the intention of dealing one of their younger players (likely Brinson or Santana) in order to address another weakness on their roster.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs